Last Thursday, at a licensing rules hearing for Nebraska psychologists, the topic of debate between the Nebraska Psychology Association and the Nebraska Catholic Conference was a “convictions of conscience” rule that would allow psychologists (and possibly counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists) to “refuse to treat — and refuse to refer clients — because of religious or moral convictions.”
Nebraska, we need to have a talk. For starters, WTF!!?? Why is the Nebraska Catholic Conference even attending Nebraska Psychology Association hearings? I don’t recall them being a medical organization or an authority on the field of psychology.
And also, where will this “conscientious clause” stuff stop? I don’t normally head down the slippery slopes, but come on, at this point we’re getting a little crazy. First some doctors don’t want to perform the medical procedure known as abortion. Ok, fine, give them a choice to opt out. Then religious hospitals don’t want abortions occurring anywhere in their facilities, even when medically necessary… getting away from the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath there. Then some pharmacies don’t want to carry emergency contraception, because they misunderstand the science behind it and consider it abortion. Uh, we tried to compromise on that one, but they weren’t hearing it. Problematic. Then certain pharmacists didn’t want to dispense ANY contraception because they decided it was all immoral/secretly abortifacient. Here we are fully detached from reality, and now the somewhat kooky “morality” of certain pharmacists may be codified to trump the morality of patients in every case. Flat out objectionable.
We move from these mounting “conscientious objections” that just so happen to only effect sexually active women (how random and coincidental!) to Bush’s move to allow any person, even remotely involved in healthcare, to refuse to treat and refuse to refer any patient for any reason so long as that reason is based in religious belief. Of course, women and queers were the intended victims of this creepy bit of federal rule-making. Obama did away with this rule.
But this is all why I’m freaking out and thinking that maybe this time we ARE headed down that slope.
Because now, it seems, Nebraska Catholic leaders would like to extend the creeping fog of healthcare refusals to psychologists and possibly other types of counselors. Awesome… they must be thinking, “Guys, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s create a rule, you see, so that when people are seeking mental healthcare services, if their concerns have anything, you know, to do with female ‘troubles’ or homosexuality, the practitioner can legally discriminate against them. To protect the psychologists’ conscience and save them from going to hell for helping out a fellow human being. It’ll be great! That’ll learn those harlots and homos! What’d ya say?”
Not cool. Nebraska, you gotta do the right thing here. At this point, the matter is merely up for discussion. But your Catholic Conference would like to actually change the psychologists’ code of ethics to perversely make it “ethical” to discriminate in this way.
It’s got to stop. Now.
Consider yourself warned.